Academics launch final appeal to European Parliament

Academics from all over Europe give a final warning against the ill-conceived plans for the introduction of a new intellectual property right in news. All MEPs were sent this statement:

On September 12th you will vote on the proposal to create a new exclusive right for publishers, as part of the Copyright in the Digital Single Market reform package.

As academics, we feel the responsibility to independently and critically assess proposed regulation on quality, on the soundness of the arguments put forward to justify regulatory intervention, on the ability of a proposed law to achieve positive outcomes and avoid negative ones.

In our open letter of 24 April this year, we set out why the proposal to create a new intellectual property right for publishers is unsound. We realize that in the current political climate, with traditional press under pressure, big technology companies dominating online advertising markets, and serious concerns over the level of disinformation and distrust on public fora, it is tempting to take regulatory action that at face value supports responsible media.

However, there is no indication whatsoever that the proposed right will produce the positive results it is supposed to. What is worse, considering current high levels of market concentration on online advertising markets and in media, a publishers’ right may well backfire: further strengthening the power of media conglomerates and of global platforms to the detriment of smaller players.

We launched our open letter in April this year, aware that many intellectual property law and media scholars share our concern. Many more academics have come out in support since then.  We do recognize there are problems. But what the European Commission proposed to you is just not that: a solution. And the amendments that circulate do not fundamentally change that. So in our modest opinion, it should not be passed into law.

Read the full initial letter here in pdf.